Decoding the everyday routines of people in Indian streets & public spaces
DECODING EVERYDAY is a citizen science platform that will facilitate dialogue amongst different people from different neighbourhoods across cities in India. To begin this dialogue, we start with sharing our findings from a research initiative where we observed and analysed how and why the ashwath katte (peepul tree shrine) in Bangalore works as a neighbourhood community space.
WHAT do we want to do?
To understand how people move, how people behave and how people act in streets and public spaces of the Indian city.
WHY should we do this?
We believe that decoding the everyday routines of people in the public realm can help us work towards people-centric cities.
HOW do we do this?
One way to do this is to initiate an exchange of ideas, thoughts and strategies amongst citizens about streets and public spaces in their own neighbourhoods.
What is an ashwath katte?
The Peepul tree, also known as 'Ashvattha' in Sanskrit Literature, as well as Bo or Bodhi tree in Buddhists contexts, is a type of a Fig tree (Ficus Religiosa) & the platform around it the katte
The Sacred and the Public
A few years ago, when we started to study the ashwath katte, it was to understand how it develops as the small, informal public space that works both as a spatial and social unit. In 2018, a research grant from Azim Premji University allowed further work on this. The main deliverable was a detailed study of 20 ashwath kattes in Bangalore. As we started the research, we thought that it might be useful to document, to record more kattes across the city that could become another project in itself. The book "The Sacred and the Public" is that project that started out as a call for volunteers and grew to become a book only because there were so many young people who wanted to participate.
Around the time that we completed the book, we also made the film. We wanted to share what we had discovered through experiencing the ashwath kattes at different times of the day, in different neighbourhoods across the city. The film highlights how the ritual and spatial practices at these neighbourhood community spaces help build collective memory that lends continuity to our public culture and our public spaces.
Find an Ashwath katte
While we were doing the initial sampling for the ashwath katte research, we had several young people from the city who wrote to us in response to a facebook post we had shared for volunteers. We prepared a one-page template that we then emailed anyone who wrote in, along with a detailed set of instructions. It led to a simple documentation of about 75 ashwath kattes - a collective effort of about 50 students, volunteers and research associates – our first citizen science initiative. You can now locate these kattes on the google map. If you click on any one of the peepul leaf icons, you will find a photograph and description of the katte. If you want to tell us about the katte in your neighbourhood, you can click on the button below
Everyday Stories are a set of films depicting simple observations about public space related activities. These are activities that many of us have observed or sometimes engaged in ourselves and yet paid little attention to them.
Ask Your Grandparents!
‘Ask Your Grandparents!’ is a section within our Oral History series where we hope to dialogue with people from different backgrounds about their thoughts on public spaces – their memories of a neighbourhood space from their childhood, their own usage and experiences of a park, a marketplace, a maidan and so on as well as any ideas they may have on places for social interaction in the public realm.